Streamlight Stinger 2020

US Army Rediscovers It Needs Ventilating Insoles For Jungle Boots

The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center, in support of Product Manager Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment issued a Sources Sought Notice last week seeking informtion on ventilating insoles for combat boots. The goal of this effort is to identify offerors with capabilities to provide/design/develop boot insoles for use by the combat Soldier in various different terrain and conditions, to include tropical jungle environments.

Specifically, the insoles must:
1) Be constructed of materials that do not absorb water;
2) Be designed to allow water and sweat to drain away from the foot while walking;
3) Be highly breathable, to allow for air to circulate under the foot when worn;
4) Be durable enough to last for six months of combat use in jungle environments where high humidity and repeated submersion in water are expected;
5) Must not cause pressure points, discomfort, or irritation during walking/running on uneven, rugged terrain throughout the useful life of the item;
6) Be rigid enough to resist moving or bunching under the foot;
7) Be able to not interfere with normal walking/running or reduce Soldier performance in movement through varied terrain;
8) Be resistant to degradation due to fungus and bacteria;
9) Be able to provide shock attenuation;
10) Do not require a break-in period; and
11) Must meet all requirements of Berry compliant manufacturing.

Well no kidding. It only took them a year after they released an RFI for jungle boots that it finally dawns on them that they might need ventilating insoles. PEO Soldier has at its disposal the entire technical and historical holdings of the Natick Research, Development and Engineering Center but it seems as if no one wants to find out how a requirement was satisfied in the past.  It’s been done before. Hit the books to find out how.  

For those of you unfamiliar with the Saran Insole issued with the Boot, Hot Weather, it looked just like what you see above.  It was designed to keep your foot up off of the floor of the boot and allow some air to circulate in hopes of staving off trench foot.

30 Responses to “US Army Rediscovers It Needs Ventilating Insoles For Jungle Boots”

  1. m5 says:

    Are there any current manufacturers of proper jungle boot insoles? Ventilated ones, of course. Do any of the commercially available jungle boots come with proper insoles?

    I’d need a pair or two of such soles.

  2. mark says:

    I got issued these, along with OD ( believe it or not ) jungle boots from CIF at Ft. Dix in 2003 for a trip somewhere warm and humid. It’s hard to believe they can’t square this circle.

  3. Colin says:

    The Army forgets its history so fast

    • bulldog76 says:

      it does it truly does

    • Francis says:

      True for all services no doubt. We have a strong cultural penchant for disregarding the past.

      60s gun trucks in Vietnam go out with jury rigged armor and crew served weapons -> 90s prime movers in Francis’ Marine Corps firing battery lack the parts to mount even one .50 cal with an unprotected ring mount -> 2004 Iraq and every convoy that rolls bristles with with weapons and armored turret.

      or how about the lessons learned by the Royal Navy in the Falklands regarding polyester uniforms melting to the skin. We had to relearn that one the hard way when all the ground guys started getting the underarmour stuff.

      {sigh] whaddayagonnado.

    • majrod says:

      Colin it’s a great observation but not limited to the Army.

      Versions of the F35 don’t have an internal gun (or one that works).

      The M27 forgets why we left the BAR, Auto M14 and Auto M16 as the squad’s automatic weapon.

      The UCLASS is being slowed in development because we’re adding undeveloped technology to a requirement.

      And everyone seems to have forgotten camo is a thing you do and not always buy.

  4. patrulje says:

    It is rare when a new command or commander takes over that they actually learn from or listen to the previous ones. Each wants to be seen as the “new sheriff” not just repeating the processes of the previous, even if they worked. PEO Soldier is no different.

    • Francis says:

      Yeah everybody wants to be the next Clausewitz and pretend to discover something new.

      But I think it’s more than that. I’ve seen this on the civilian side within DoD. I’m convinced that a bureaucracy, while necessary, is a contagion of fear. You don’t get ahead by spoiling the fun of your highers by pointing out that they’re wrong, or this has been done before, or that there are serious drawbacks to they’re brilliant “new” idea. You get along by going along. There are exceptions, especially when you have reasonable people in charge, but it only takes one self-serving individual to destroy a lot of great work.

  5. Rob says:

    Would these not be a beneficial addition to any boot?

    • Eddie says:

      Any boot you plan on taking into conditions like such.

    • Francis says:

      i would agree with Eddie, these really are for the tropic environment where wet feet are the norm.

      Number 6 is a must. Don’t know what’s issued now, but even in temperate climates, I learned the hard way that a stiffened foot bed is desirable. The Spenco’s are great up to a point, but in a flooded boot with unsupportive, broken-in and loose leather upper, they get all floppy inside.

  6. AbnMedOps says:

    Army procurement is so screwed up that the new Claymores will say “Do Not Boil” and the jungle boot insoles will say “Front Toward Enemy”.

  7. Matt says:

    Can’t wait until they figure out wheels work best when round, night time is dark, and water is wet…

    What, exactly, was wrong with the old, OD jungle boots? Other than non-infantry SMAG’s didn’t like them.

    • Riceball says:

      I’m sure that there’s nothing inherently wrong with the old OD jungle boots but that doesn’t mean that with today’s material tech you couldn’t make an even better jungle boot.

    • majrod says:

      Well, that jungle boot’s leather begged to be shined in garrison and shining boots is a lost art largely considered a waste of time.

      • Luddite4Change says:

        Wouldn’t the rough side out leather retain more moisture?

        Shined jungles with heavily starched 507 looked great back in the day.

      • Craig says:

        Not only are your points correct,I wonder if anyone currently in the US Mil knows how to properly roll US Army sleeve’s,JIC we ever go back to that 😀

  8. tackleberry says:

    Not sure how well these breath/drain: https://secure.yoursole.com/us/mens/footbeds/softec-casual/

    sure there’s something better out there in terms of perforated insoles that offer support/cushioning.

    • Francis says:

      I think it will require a lot more ventilation than that. But I have Sole footbeds. They’re a great product and I think their team could come up with a great solution. Frankly I think the answer is a boot and footbed design that eliminates the requirement for socks.

  9. Dan says:

    Now if they could make some with a little bit of support that would be great. Going any distance on the old Vietnam footbeds is a good way to get shin splints. They do drain and dry exceptionally fast though.

    • Mike Bolton says:

      Once I got some jungle boots, that is all I ever wore. In NG SF, they were issued. At first, we left the ventilated insoles in, but later replaced them with padded insoles. They worked fine for a few days at a time of immersion. I could see where they wouldn’t last for a couple of weeks. They would stay wet and heavy.

      We put a lot of miles under rucks on our jungle boots, both through the woods and on the road, but I know there are probably better designs out there now, if not better materials.

  10. Kirk says:

    Let’s not forget that these are the same ‘effing idiots who experienced the massive crotch failures of the OG107 jungle fatigues in Vietnam, and then repeated the same process again with the hot weather BDU, to again repeat the same mistakes yet a third time in fifty years with the initial iteration of the ACU uniform…

    Nobody, I repeat, nobody pays the slightest bit of damn attention to history in the US Army. Or, the people who do pay attention to it–I can probably find you six or seven places where ever single crisis we’ve suffered over the last century has had someone saying beforehand “Hey, we need to do something about this, and here’s what we should do…”, only for them to be ignored. MRAPs to rear area battle prep, we’ve ignored all the people who proposed doing something about it beforehand…

  11. Postman says:

    I think taking a page from La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX shoes might do the trick.

  12. Terry B. says:

    +1

    Well said and all too often true.

    TLB

  13. COL REMF says:

    Having been issued green canvas jungle boots with the Saran insoles (back when George Bush the Elder was POTUS), the insoles weren’t very good: essentially flat and smooth (though porus), they weren’t particularly cushiony or comfortable, and socks would slip on the surface (resulting in friction points). I found the trick to drier feet was super-thin commercial polypro liner socks (because polypro fibers do not absorb water like the then-issue wool socks), and replacing the Saran insoles with commercial cushion variants. As others have stated, with comparatively modern materials and design, something much better than the Saran insoles is possible. And indeed weird/incompetent that “It . . . took them a year after they released an RFI for jungle boots that it finally dawns on them that they might need ventilating insoles.”

  14. ahhhhhclever says:

    5) Must not cause pressure points, discomfort, or irritation during walking/running on uneven, rugged terrain throughout the useful life of the item

    haha seems kinda redundant to say that